And The Creep Goes On

Man-made climate change is not news. The scientific community has been studying it and notifying the world about it for nearly a half century. Geologists label the current era as the Anthropocene to designate the effects of man on the environment. Geologists talk in terms of large periods of time, with sudden occurrence evidencing change being rare (volcano, meteorite strike, etc.). The change within “climate change” is slow and, for the most part, barely noticeable. Referencing historic records, natural records (ice cores, etc.), and statistical data makes the change jump out and allow for projections. Analogous change takes place when a democracy slides into authoritarianism though there are no records or statistical data to reveal the movement. Any history is always the history of current time being made (news). The change taking place is likewise so slow as to be barely noticeable. In the US the current national conversation on mail-in voting gives a stark illustration of the authoritarian creep taking place within America today. Free market capitalism frames the debate as a competition, a partisan “free choice.” Nothing could be more obfuscating. In Ohio, as in other states, the dominant GOP has relied on mail-in voting as the “compromise” to the Dems demand for early voting, wide spread polling places, Sunday voting, and same day registration/voting. The authoritarian creep comes to the fore when what actually occurs is considered, not the rhetorical cover meant to obfuscate the factual change. In the past week’s propaganda briefings, Dear Leader has reiterated his opposition and disdain for mail in voting, returning to the voter fraud mantra that his earlier administration’s defunct, disbanded and discredited voter fraud commission could not reveal (but like the Emperor’s clothes, the Emperor is sure it is there). “The president fiercely criticized mail-in voting as “horrible” and “corrupt” during the White House coronavirus task force’s daily news conference Tuesday [4-7-20], but also conceded that he voted by mail in Florida’s primary last month. Trump offered no legitimate explanation for the discrepancy between his position on mail-in voting and his personal voting habits, but insisted “there’s a big difference between somebody that’s out of state and does a ballot, and everything’s sealed, certified and everything else.” In other instances of mail-in voting, however, “you get thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody’s living room, signing ballots all over the place,” Trump claimed. “You look at what they do, where they grab thousands of mail-in ballots, and they dump it. I’ll tell you what — and I don’t have to tell you, you can look at the statistics — there’s a lot of dishonesty going along with mail-in voting, mail-in ballots,” he continued, adding: “I think if you vote, you should go.”” (Trump: GOP should fight mail-in voting because it ‘doesn’t work out well for Republicans’, Quint Forgey, Politico, 4-8-20). How is one to grasp such a contradiction (especially in light of the same Dear Leader advocating Americans wear masks but he himself will not)? White House rejects bailout for Postal Service battered by coronavirus by Jacob Bogage for the Washington Post contributes more factual evidence of authoritarian activism. “Trump threatened to veto the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or Cares, Act if the legislation contained any money to directly bail out the postal agency, according to a senior Trump Administration official and a congressional official. “We told them very clearly that the president was not going to sign the bill if [money for the Postal Service] was in it,” the Trump Administration official said. “I don’t know if we used the v-bomb but the president was not going to sign it, and we told them that.”” Funding would run out by the end of spring without a loan provision included in the CARES Act. “Without the loan, which still has not been approved by the Treasury Department, USPS would be “financially illiquid,” by Sept. 30, according to estimates provided to lawmakers.” “And while the Trump Administration and Mnuchin pushed through private-sector bailouts in the Cares Act — $350 billion to the Small Business Administration loan program, $29 billion to passenger airlines and air cargo carriers, and economic incentives for the construction, energy and life sciences industries, among others — Mnuchin has signaled any postal relief funds in a “Phase IV” stimulus package currently under negotiation would amount to a poison pill.” Nothing would benefit Dear Leader’s authoritarian aspiration better than privatizing the USPS (particularly during the start up of the fall Presidential balloting). Akin to the demise of net neutrality, various “competing” mail delivery services would make for all the more reasons to invalidate a mailed in vote (limited service, hierarchical pricing,  uncommitted and insecure service, etc.). Though not privatized, the recent primary election in Wisconsin gave clear evidence to what patchwork requirements and deadline commitments result in. Analysis finds further evidence of authoritarian creep when the Republican Governor of Ohio shut down the March 17 primary and was challenged by the Democrats  over the legality of his move, the Trump appointed SCOTUS refused to hear it and let Mike Dewine have his way. When the Democratic Governor of Wisconsin opted to do the same, the SCOTUS deigned to consider the Republican challenge and voted 5-4 to allow the election to proceed. Oho is left with a pretend election at the end of April (all mail-in balloting). To vote in said pretend election requires multiple mail-in documentation hoops to jump through. The actual ballot itself is rife with opportunities of invalidation on grounds the envelope was not sealed properly, enough information/verification was not or incorrectly provided, lacking correct postage, etc. Like the hanging chad election outcome in the 2000 SCOTUS decided presidential race, there is ample grounds for ambiguous interpretation of outcome. In short, mail-in voting offers no panacea for the future of Democracy in America. It does, however, open a window on the continuous creep of authoritarianism within the current workings of the established, two party reliant system.

 

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